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Can Blogging Produce a Passive Income?

Business Opportunities points to an article over at About.com on Passive Income that is worth a read. I think most of us would like to get to a situation where we could say our income earning is somewhat passive:

‘Passive income, on the other hand, is income that does not require your direct involvement. Some kinds of passive income you may be familiar with include owning rental property, royalties on an invention or creative work, and network marketing. If you want to earn more, work less, and have a decent retirement, you’re going to have to start creating income streams that do not require your direct involvement. Whether you’re just starting your business, or you’ve been running it a while, the sooner you start thinking about how you are going to shift your business model to create more passive income, the sooner you can achieve personal and financial freedom.’

The question I’ve been asked a number of times by friends is whether my blogging strategy is one in which I’m building a passive income?

Its a good question which I’d like to answer in the affirmative – but am beginning to see that I can not. When I first started blogging with a commercial mindset I had lofty dreams of my blogs getting to a point where they would be able to earn me an ongoing large amount of money – Passive. My hope that blogging would enable me to not only give up my day job but that it would enable me to give all of my time to community and charity projects that would benefit others (my true passion).

Whilst this is still my dream – I’ve since begun to see that my blogs will never reach such a status – they will always require someone to work on them to some level. The web is an increasingly competitive marketplace with new sites that will compete with mine being added on a daily basis to the internet. In order to compete long term there will always be a need for fresh content, new designs, upkeep of comments/forums etc.

I suspect if I let my blogs go in terms of upkeep that within a month or two I would see a downturn of income. It might be slow at first but I suspect that with most topics over time the income levels would drop off. In order to keep things moving forward I currently give at least 6-7 hours per day (7 days per week) to my blogging. I can see a day coming where I’ll be able to lesson these hours, but at this stage there is little passivity about what I do.

Having said this I hope to increase the passivity of the income I earn from blogging in a number of ways in the years ahead. I’d like to be able to be in a position in the next 12 months to employ others to write and upkeep some my blogs on my behalf. Secondly I suspect that more and more tools will develop in the coming years that will increase the automation of posting to blogs. Already my ability to post large numbers of posts in a day has increased with some of the tools out there. It is getting easier to find and write quality content quickly and this will only get better.

I also suspect that with time (and as I add more and more content) that the natural passivity of the income generated with increase.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I’ve always thought that the idea of passive income from websites was a myth. When I tell people what I do for a living they always get dollar signs in their eyes and envy my “passive” income, but the fact is, it’s hard work. (I could pay someone else to do it, of course, but then there’s some management work necessary.)

    I think of it more as “buffered income”. If I stop working on my sites, as you said, the income would drop off gradually. But it is very nice to know I can take a week’s vacation without losing much of that week’s income.

  2. Tom Hanna says:

    Several points. Is passivity necessarily what you want in blog income? You can blog from anywhere, so if you want to spend 6 weeks a year skiing and 6 weeks in Vegas – you can run your blog as well as if you were home.

    The big draw of passive income is retirement income, but realistically if you want to retire, you are going to sell that 100 property rental portfolio or turn it over to someone else to manage. You could do the same with a blog. I’d say the goal should be to develop the blog into a property that will command a price when you are ready to sell. The big problem with that, as compared to older forms of ‘website’ is that blogs have usually been so intensely personal. Still, brokers and insurance agents regularly sell their book of business when they retire and those are intensely personal businesses also.

    If passive income is a big goal, how about using the blog to drive customers to something that produces residuals rather than relying on the one time income of advertising. My experience with Adsense and blogs is that blogs are great at bringing in interested people and not so great at getting them to click ads. So, blog about insurance and sell them a policy. Blog about financial planning and sell mutual funds.

    Final thought before I write a book here. If you want to take several weeks off (or have to) and literally can’t blog, there’s always the guest blogger option. You can return the favor when they vacation and it may build crossreadership for both blogs. One of the great things about blogs is that I can think of a dozen people offhand that I’d gladly let run my sites for a few weeks. (Whether they’d feel the same about me is the big obstacle.)